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County drops ban on guns in parks

The County Council voted to repeal the law to bring it into line with state laws.

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By Noah Haglund
Herald Writer
EVERETT — Snohomish County councilmen voted Wednesday to repeal a ban on guns in county parks and bring the county back into agreement with state law.
A majority of the council also passed a motion asking the state to give local governments more authority to restrict firearms at municipal facilities.
That votedivided the council along party lines.
Republican John Koster initially proposed the code change to get rid of an unenforceable firearms prohibition. In January, the Democrats who hold the other four council seats declined to support the move.
By Wednesday’s hearing, three Democrats joined Koster and voted 4-0 to update the code. Councilman Mike Cooper was absent.
“I have reached the conclusion that our code is inconsistent with state law,” Councilman Dave Somers said.
Snohomish County’s prohibition on guns in parks dates from 1971.
In the 1980s, Washington passed a law preventing local governments from passing gun laws that are more restrictive than the state’s. Snohomish County’s discrepancy didn’t draw any attention until Seattle last year banned guns from city parks, a vote that was overruled in court.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Council Chairman Dave Gossett said he wanted to approve a motion that would explain to constituents why he was changing the county code in a way that he doesn’t agree with.
His motion asked that local governments be given the authority to prohibit guns at all government facilities by people who do not have a concealed weapons permit.
Part of the motion reads, “the Snohomish County Council sees serious problems with allowing unrestricted possession of firearms in county parks, a place where children should be able to play and families gather without feeling threatened.”
Gossett said that state law, as written, would allow people to carry shotguns or AK-47s into county parks.
Koster challenged Gossett and pointed to a state law that prohibits people from using weapons to intimidate people.
“All this hype about AK-47s and shotguns is ridiculous,” he said.
The motion passed 3-1, with Koster the only “no” vote. Koster later called the motion “posturing” over guns. It was the first time, he said, the council had passed a motion to state what it wanted the Legislature to do.
Gossett could not recall any similar motion and agreed that the move is uncommon. The council often does approve resolutions supporting community projects or economic issues.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465,
Story tags » County CouncilParks

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